What parents and teachers at Sunderland school think as pupils return to school for the first time this year

Students across the country returned to school for the first time in two months today, Monday, March 8 and this is what parents and teachers had to say as the first Covid restrictions were lifted.

Wednesday, 10th March 2021, 12:00 pm

Fatfield Academy in Washington welcomed back pupils this morning for the first time this year as the first wave of lockdown restrictions were eased.

Many students and parents were feeling optimistic and excited, while others a little anxious about adjusting back into school.

Father of pupils Esther and Hugo, Kevin Grimes, 38, said “We’ve been lucky enough to have Hugo in nursery the whole time and Esther is back in school today.

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Pupils at Fatfield Academy in Washington have returned to school today. Top left - Mum Lucy Banwell who was dropping her children at school. Top right - Dad Kevin Grimes. Bottom left - Hugo and Esther Grimes (4 and 6-years-old). Bottom right - Headteacher Tracey Pizl.

"It’s been hard at times as me and my wife work full time so we’ve been doing homeschooling in between, but the kids have been great. I’m definitely over the moon that they’re back!”

Esther claimed her dad was much better at homeschooling than her mam, the six-year-old said: “Dad was definitely better at homeschooling than mam but that’s because she works a lot. I’m nervous but excited about coming back and the teachers are much better than teaching than mam and dad.”

Younger brother Hugo, 4, added that it still smelt like Christmas in the reception area as that’s the last time he was in school.

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Hugo and Esther Grimes at Fatfield Academy.

Nicola Burnip, mum of students Ewan and Luke Burnip said “I feel absolutely fine about the kids coming back, I know they’re safe and they’re both excited about returning. I found homeschooling went well but they are looking forward to coming back – they love it here.”

Lucy Banwell, another parent agreed, she said: “I’m really excited for the kids to be back, I have 110 per cent faith in the school and I know everyone is safe here.

"The support from the school has been second to none, with homeschooling tools and guidance – they have gone above and beyond and all the kids are so excited to be returning.”

Headteacher Tracy Pizl said all the staff at the school were “very excited” and looking forward to the children settling back in after the two month long lockdown.

Pupils returning to Fatfield Academy on March 8 after lockdown.

Ms Pizl said the school has a number of safety procedures in place which includes 'robust' risk assessments such as social distancing measures, child bubbles that do not mix and staggered home time slots.

There are hand sanitiser stations around the premises and masks worn by parents and members of staff.

She said: “We’re very excited to be back, we’re not anxious at all because we have all the safety procedures in place. I think it’s the right time for everyone to return because we can get all the pupils settled in before the Easter break.

"The parents are all welcoming the return of pupils and are extremely supportive of the school - they have trust in us.

Ewan and Luke Burnip on their first day back at Fatfield Academy School since Christmas.

"Many children are desperate to see their friends and I think this is an important aspect of returning to school for social skills and mental health.”

The Washington school has a mental health programme in place to help those struggling with the effects of the pandemic which Ms Pizl said was ‘very successful’ last Autumn.

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